Whales are our BFGs – big friendly giant allies in fighting climate breakdown. We need to protect them as if our lives depend on it … because they do. Danny Groves at Whale and Dolphin Conservation reveals all in this tale about whale poo, pumps and conveyer belts – and how you can help save the planet.

Since her first emotional encounters with whales, Julia and The Outdoor Guide have been helping us raise awareness of our work to protect them from the many threats that they face each and every day. Their support for our Not Whale Food plastic pollution campaign helped shine a light on just one of those big threats and helped highlight how our rubbish ends up in the stomachs of whales. Plastics account for 60 – 80% of marine litter, the vast majority of which drifts from land into the ocean.

Whale poo and how it could save you

This is particularly bad environmental double whammy. We need a plastic-free healthy ocean to help fight climate breakdown, and we also need whales to help keep the ocean healthy. We already know that whales are awesome – Julia can tell you this! But we are also beginning to understand just how much whales are essential to combat climate change. How so, you may ask? As whales go about living their long, long lives, they circulate nutrients throughout the ocean, acting as ‘ocean gardeners’. They do this mainly in two ways. The first is known as the ‘whale pump’. As they dive deep to feed, and then come to the surface to breathe and poo, they stir up huge amounts of nutrients in the water, particularly iron and nitrogen . Whale poo is a brilliant fertiliser for incredible little microscopic plants called phytoplankton (big name, small plant), which remove millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and produce massive amounts of oxygen for us to breathe.

The second way whales circulate these nutrients is across the ocean on their skin and in their urine as they undertake their vast migration journeys. This is known as the ‘great whale conveyor belt’. Studies on the migration of blue whales in the Southern Ocean show that these whales carry nutrients with them on their travels, which enable our tiny phytoplankton friends to flourish, which in turn lock away the same carbon as 24,000 trees each year.

So, we need to protect whales but we also need to increase their numbers, not just because they are cool, but because they are our allies in the fight against the climate emergency. In many ways, our lives depend on their lives. But we humans haven’t helped this relationship in the past – slaughtering 99% of some whale populations which, if you think about it, is like destroying the Amazon rainforest. It is estimated that if that population of blue whales in the Southern Ocean recovered to pre-whale hunting numbers, they could remove and lock away an amazing 6.6 million trees worth of carbon.

Whale poo and how it could save you

But we can make amends and redress the balance – and you can help today.

To persuade decision-makers to include ocean protection in their climate plans, we need to gather more irrefutable evidence of the role that whales play in fighting climate breakdown. That’s why at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we’ve have created the Climate Giants Research Fund. A lot of brilliant scientists are gathering information on the important climate and biodiversity roles whales are playing in the ocean, and WDC is bringing all this science together to convince policymakers to protect the ocean and the whales who can keep it healthy.

You can help to fund this vital research with a donation today and have your donation doubled through our Big Give campaign. 

Through our AnimOcean project, for example, using the power of supercomputer modelling to bring together data from research projects across the world, we could understand as much about how whales fight climate and biodiversity breakdown as we do about trees and bees. This will give us the evidence we need to influence governments to change conservation policies across the world.  This project is the first of many initiatives that could be funded through our Climate Giants Research Fund, our biggest and most ambitious initiative ever. It will be a game-changer for ocean conservation, and we need your support to make it happen.

So, if you donate between 20 and 27 April, your donation could be doubled through our Big Give Green Match Fund campaign. This is thanks to the generosity of Michael O’Mara Books donating an amazing £10,000 in match funds. That’s twice the amount of support for whales and dolphins at no extra cost to you.

Please click here and donate what you can. Together, we will save the whale, save the world, save ourselves!

Blog Author: Danny Groves, Whale & Dolphin Conservation